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West Virginia First Ladies

By Staff | Oct 28, 2009

Recently I was given a booklet that contains information about all the First Ladies of West Virginia.

The booklet is done by The West Virginia Division of Culture and History. It contains both history and pictures of all the First Ladies. What fun it is to read and to look at some of the photos of the women. Their costumes and faces are great-just another part of West Virginia History that I certainly enjoyed.

1: Laurance Tanner Bullock Boreman was born in Wheeling on Nov. 24, 1830. Her first husband, Union soldier, John Oldham Bullock, was killed early in the Civil War. On Nov. 30, 1864, she married Arthur I. Boreman (first governor, 1863-69). She helped define the role as First Lady, hosting formal gatherings at the Boreman’s home in Wheeling. After leaving office, Arthur Boreman served one term in the U.S. Senate before returning to his hometown of Parkersburg to practice law. Laurance Boreman died in Parkersburg on April 14, 1908.

2. Mary Ireland Farmsworth was born in Upshur County on May 1, 18390, a niece of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. She holds the distinction of serving the least time as first lady. Her husband D.D. T. Farmsworth (second governor, 1869) was governor for only five days, completing the unexpired term of Arthur I. Boreman, who had resigned to enter the U.S. Senate. After leaving office, the Farmsworths moved to Buckhannon. She died Feb. 22, 1925, at age 92.

3. Sarah Clotworthy Stevenson was born in Philadelphia in 1824 and married William Erskine Stevenson (third governor, 1869-71) in 1824. In the late 1850s, the Stevensons moved from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Parkersburg, where he became a staunch pro-Union and West Virginia statehood activist. In the middle of Stevenson’s term as governor, the state capital was relocated from Wheeling to Charleston. As a result, Sarah Stevenson focused much of her time as first lady on reestablishing her family’s residence. After leaving office, they moved back to Parkersburg, where Sarah Stevenson died in 1885.

4. Jane Baird Jacob was born in Washington County, Pa., on March 10, 1832. She married John J. Jacob (fourth governor, 1871-77). Jane Jacob faced the same challenge as Sarah Stevenson-relocating her place of residence in the middle of her husband’s term. The capital was moved back to Wheeling in 1875, despite her husband’s legal efforts to keep the seat of government in Charleston. After leaving office, John and Jane Jacob continued to reside in Wheeling, where she died on Feb. 22, 1903.

5. Lucy Fry Mathews was born in Frankford in 1830. She married her childhood sweetheart, Henry M. Mathews (fifth governor, 1877-81) in 1857. After leaving office, Henry and Lucy Mathews moved to Lewisburg. She died in 1904.

6. Maria Willard Jackson was born in Pleasants County in 1830. In 1865 she married Jacob B. Jackson (sixth governor, 1881-85), who served as mayor of Parkersburg prior to his election as governor. At the end of Jackson’s term as governor, the capital again was moved back to Charleston, making Maria Jackson the last first lady to serve in Wheeling. After leaving office, the Jacksons returned to Parkersburg. Maria Jackson’s death date is unknown.

This booklet continues on with our First Ladies up to our present one, First Lady Gail Manchin. It is a fun read, as well as an informative one. I had forgotten how many times the capital moved back and forth from Wheeling and Charleston. If you would like to get this booklet it is available at The Culture Center, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. East., Charleston, WV 25305.